Suspended coach denies assault charge

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BENNINGTON — Arlington high school's varsity girls' basketball coach pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a misdemeanor charge of domestic assault. He was placed on administrative leave after police began investigating the allegation.

Jonathan Hoyt, 42, of Arlington, was charged after police said he caused bodily harm to a 16-year-old female household member Friday. Domestic assault carries a penalty of up to 18 months in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.

Vermont State Police began investigating the case on Saturday, when VSP Sgt. Todd Wilkins informed a trooper about the alleged assault, according to court documents. Wilkins concurrently serves as chairman of the Arlington District School Board.

When interviewed by Irwin and Wilkins, the victim in the case said the assault was preceded by a verbal argument.

During the argument, she said, Hoyt grabbed her by the throat/chest area after which her head hit a wall, then he grabbed both her hands, pushed her to the floor and twisted her ankle. When she got up from the floor, the teen said Hoyt grabbed her by the hair, according to a sworn statement by Irwin.

Being grabbed by both hands was the most painful, the girl said, because one of her fingers was broken from a prior incident. She described it as a level 8 on a scale of 1-10. The next most painful was apparently her ankle being twisted, because of injury also from a prior incident.

The teen said Hoyt had never physically harmed her in the past, but was known to have a bad temper.

This was echoed by a 21-year-old family member of Hoyt, who said she was going to request Hoyt enroll in an anger management type of class.

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When Irwin and Wilkins interviewed Hoyt at the Arlington Memorial High School, he confirmed that he and the girl had a verbal argument and that he restrained her hands in an act of self-defense after she "slapped" him across the face.

He denied grabbing her by the throat/chest area or pulling her hair, the affidavit states. Police took him into custody that day, then released him with a criminal citation to appear in court Tuesday afternoon.

Wilkins, when reached by phone, said he learned of the alleged assault from the parent of a student.

At the Bennington Superior criminal court on Tuesday, Hoyt remained silent as his defense attorney, K. James Malady III, waived the reading of his charge and entered a not guilty plea.

Judge John Valente ordered Hoyt released from jail on several conditions, including not contacting the victim in the case. He is scheduled to return to court on April 10.

Hoyt was placed on administrative leave from his coaching position, Battenkill Valley Supervisory Union Superintendent William Bazyk told the Banner on Saturday. The 2019-2020 season is Hoyt's first as a varsity coach; he previously coached at the junior varsity and middle school levels.

Hoyt's existing coaching contract ends when the basketball season ends in around three weeks, Wilkins said, and it would have to be renewed by the school principal and BVSU superintendent.

Contact Tiffany Tan at, @tiffgtan on Twitter or 802-447-7567 ext. 122.


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